Did Man United Enjoy The Second Best Season In England This Year?

At the start of the season it was thought that managerial heavyweights Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho would steer either Manchester City or Manchester United to Premier League glory this month.

But alas it was another new boy in Antonio Conte who would take the title with Chelsea. Conte and his players take on Arsenal this weekend and if they beat their London rivals then Chelsea will add the FA Cup to their Premier League trophy.

So I think everyone will be in agreement that Chelsea have enjoyed the best season in England in 2016/17.

But after Conte’s men, who have enjoyed this season the most?

I don’t think it’s clear cut.

Obviously Tottenham Hotspur will say that it’s them. They finished runners-up after all, their best final league position in the Premier League era. They also finished a massive eleven points ahead of North London rivals Arsenal! Plus they made it to Wembley before losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final stage.

Mauricio Pochettino has a fantastic, young squad and they seem to get better and better each and every season they are together.

But Spurs failed to add silverware to their trophy cabinet and struggled to make positive inroads in any of the European competitions.

The season also ended with much speculation regarding Tottenham being able to keep their talented squad together. Rumours are suggesting that Daniel Levy’s wage structure at the club is becoming an issue with players such as Kyle Walker, Danny Rose Eric Dier and Dele Alli all being linked with moves away.

On the other hand you have Man United.

Mourinho’s side never really competed for the league title this year and they drew far too many times. The Red Devils finished in sixth spot and were a hefty twenty-four points behind champions Chelsea. United also had a major problem in-front of goal and often struggled to kill teams off.

But they did end the season with two major trophies (the League Cup & Europa League) and with qualification for next season’s Champions League. They ended this campaign with that winning feeling and by winning the only European trophy that had so far eluded them.

Unlike Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, United’s win in the Europa League final means they don’t have to negotiate any tough qualifying round as they head straight into the Champions League group stages.

United now don’t need to worry about convincing stars to join the long-term project like they did last summer with Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they are now back amongst Europe’s elite in the biggest club competition. That means transfer targets such as Antoine Griezmann are more likely to arrive.

The French forward stated earlier this week:

“Winning titles is what I will look for this summer when deciding on my future.”

United and Jose have history in the title winning department and this year’s two trophies back up that pedigree.

The ultimate goal, if you’re not going to win the league title, is to get Champions League qualification. That’s just the nature of the beast these days.

I suppose it just depends on whether you think consistency in the Premier League is better than winning trophies or vice-versa.

Personally I’d prefer to win two cups and get Champions League qualification than by simply finishing as a runner-up in England’s top flight.

I think Tottenham’s fantastic season and their superb squad make it harder to judge because the Spurs support will have adored watching their team this year.

But I, without doubt, would have preferred winning two competitions and getting straight into the group stages of the Champions League than finish in third or fourth place.

I bet Jose Mourinho and Man United fans will make that point clear to rivals Man City and Liverpool over the course of the summer.

But Manchester United can’t sit back this summer, they need to back their manager in the transfer market and they need to challenge for the Premier League crown next term, the United fans won’t be happy with the same journey next May!

Celebrating Celtic’s Lisbon Lions – Sean Fallon Interview

On this day fifty years ago Celtic Football Club made history as they became the first British club to win the European Cup!

The famous Lisbon Lions were managed by the icon Jock Stein and he had Celtic legend Sean Fallon as his trusty assistant.

This is my interview with the very generous Mr Fallon (from 2011) and we would talk about Jock, Celtic, the 7-1 Hampden in the sun win over Rangers as well as great players such as Kenny Dalglish. We also discuss Sean’s inspired role during the build up to the great game in Lisbon.

Be sure to checkout BT Sport/False Nine’s documentary on the great man tonight at 10pm.

Ryan Christie Has Done Enough At Aberdeen To Warrant Celtic Chance

Celtic’s Ryan Christie didn’t moan about not getting more first team opportunities, nor did the attacking midfielder throw his toys out of the pram when Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers sent him up to Aberdeen for a loan spell.

No the Scottish under-21 cap went to Pittodrie and tried to do his upmost in helping the Dons beat Rangers to second place in the Scottish Premiership. On that objective it was mission accomplished for the former Inverness Caley Thistle man.

The twenty-two year old has impressed during his loan stint. He has bagged himself seven goals in fifteen appearances since his January switch. Five of those goals came in the last five games of the season and it included a strike at Hampden against Hibs and the winner at Ibrox  to defeat Rangers in the league.

His performances were so good, that even in such a short period of time, he was announced Aberdeen’s young player of the year.

Not only did the loanee help Aberdeen finish runners up in Scotland’s top flight but his efforts also saw them secure a place in the upcoming Scottish Cup final.

Alas Christie himself will have to sit the final out as the Dons face his parent club Celtic.

Now what should happen next with Ryan?

The player himself has stated he’d be open to making a return to Aberdeen next season:

“I am not going to rule it out, that’s for sure because I have enjoyed my time at Aberdeen so much.”

Christie has also freely admitted that he’s become a better player since his loan move to the Granite City.

But surely now is the time for the youngster to make a claim for more first team football at Celtic Park.

When he arrives back at the Glasgow giant’s Lennoxtown training base for pre-season this summer he’ll find Kris Commons and Patrick Roberts missing from the dressing room. No doubt Celtic will do their upmost to get Roberts back but that seems far from definite.

Speculation is also mounting that Gary Mackay-Steven could be ready to depart Glasgow’s east end and become the next Celt heading for Aberdeen.

Brendan obviously kept an eye on Ryan when he was away, stating after a Dons win over Motherwell:

“It was a great finish from him last night.”

“He’s a very good young player and the move is working out really well so far.”

Christie’s versatility, creative nous and eye for goals are all traits we know Brendan likes in his players. The fact Christie willingly went up north to improve himself will also have been keenly noted by the Celtic management team.

He can play on the wings or in behind a striker, Ryan also possesses good movement, a neat pass and a nice quick and direct approach. I’ve also been impressed by the fact he’s beefed up since his move from Inverness, it shows he’s taking his career seriously and working hard during training sessions.

I honestly think Christie has enough in his arsenal to offer something different for Rodgers next term. He has shown at Aberdeen that he can help dictate things in the Scottish Premiership and help change/shape big games.

Also let’s not forget that Celtic will once again look to challenge in the Champions League and fight for a place in the elite tournament’s round of sixteen.

So while I’m unsure Ryan Christie deserves to walk straight into the starting line-up and I think Brendan Rodgers will bring in a new creative attacker this off-season, I do believe he merits a berth in the squad and a chance to prove himself again at Celtic Park.

Could It Be Wayne Rooney In and Ross Barkely Out At Everton?

After the final game of the Premier League season, we automatically turn our attention to next season and think about possible pre-season transfers.

The end of a campaign usually sees a fresh start for many a player as they wave goodbye to fans that they’ve entertained for a season or longer.

You got the feeling when Wayne Rooney walked off the Old Trafford pitch to a standing ovation in the dying minutes of Manchester United’s win over Crystal Palace, that the Red Devils captain was saying cheerio to the United faithful at their home ground one last time.

The England captain will obviously want to take part and leave with a Europa league winners medal on Wednesday night but his appearance yesterday will probably be his last bit of action as a United player in the Premier League.

The player has had a disappointing term this year under Jose Mourinho. He no longer looks like a striker capable of banging in the goals each and every week. No matter the position Jose would find for Wayne in his team, Rooney failed to make that role his own. Until Mourinho just decided to drop the star and use him sparingly for the rest of the season.

Becoming Man Utd’s all-time leading goalscorer was obviously Rooney’s highlight in a largely unsatisfying season.

But alas all good things must come to an end and now Wayne has to decide on what to do next.

That’s also a question for Everton’s Ross Barkley this summer.

If Toffees boss Ronald Koeman is to be believed then Barkley has to have an answer immentantely on whether or not he’ll be staying at Goodison beyond this season.

The play-maker only has one year left on his current deal and he’s stalled on signing a new one. This has lead to speculation linking the England midfielder with a move to either Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester City.

Koeman still seems unconvinced by Barkley’s potential and might by happy to cash in on the talent.

If that is indeed the Dutchman’s end game then could his vacant space in the squad be filled by former Blue Wayne Rooney?

Every Evertonian will remember fondly when Rooney, a sixteen year old sensation, made his professional debut for the club back in 2002. Later on in that same season, he’d also make his international debut and go on to become England’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The Everton support don’t look back at his departure from Goodison in August 2004 with any fondness. They believed Rooney was one of them and didn’t like the fact that he helped orchestrate his £30m move to Old Trafford.

But time might be a great healer for the hitman, if he does indeed rejoin the Toffees this summer.

Everton would get a player who knows the club and the support. He’s also vastly experienced and could help the development of top young stars at the Merseyside club like Andre Lookman and Tom Davies.

If money was Rooney’s main motive then he’d have joined the Chinese Super League back in the winter.   An MLS move may still interest Wayne and his family. But you get the feeling the lure of returning home to Liverpool would be strong and he could believe that he’s got unfinished business with Everton and in England’s top flight.

As the attacker has aged he seems more natural in the number ten role rather than as an all out striker.

But a move for Rooney could all depend on Barkley’s contract decision.

You’d imagine that both would want that position in, around and just behind the main frontman.

I believe signing Barkley to a long-term deal and then re-signing Rooney would potentially be a bad move for both stars.

One would have to sit out and watch the other take his place. That would stall Barkley’s career or end Rooney’s in the Premier League.

But if Barkley were to leave then I’d expect Koeman and the Everton board to go all out in their pursuit of Rooney. It would show an intent in bringing in players that can help the side and help promote the club globally.

If Ross Barkely decides to stay at Goodison and sign a new contract then surely it would be in everyone’s best interests that Koeman decides against bringing in Wayne Rooney and instead building his team around the twenty-three year old creative midfielder.

All should be more clear this time next week!

Ibrox Loss To Aberdeen Summed Up Rangers Season

Players lacking spirit, tactical confusion and fans left extremely disappointed. That doesn’t just sum up Rangers’ performance against Aberdeen last night but it also sums up most of their campaign this year.

The game showed everyone that Aberdeen are without doubt Scotland’s second best side this season. They’ve been consistently better than everyone outside of Celtic. That’s why they’re nine points ahead of Gers in the Scottish Premiership and have made it to the final of both domestic cup competitions this term.

Many a pundit and a fan have been quick to point fingers at new Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha with the accusation that the Portuguese manager is out of his depth.

I’m not absolutely sure we can rush to judgement just yet.

Without doubt Pedro has made mistakes.

His comments regarding Aberdeen and Derek McInnes seriously backfired. Maybe he thought he was putting pressure on the Dons side when discussing the end of cycles and the like but in  truth all he did was add fire to the Aberdeen star’s bellies.

You only make certain, let’s even say bold, statements when you have the actions or squad to back up your comments. Caixinha doesn’t have that at Rangers. They were out bossed at home and looked second rate for much of the game.

So for me, I’d stick to discussing my own team if I were Pedro and concentrating on getting the most out of his players.

Another big mistake Caixinha has made in his short time at Ibrox has been his tactics when he’s faced Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic team.

At Hampden they had no desire or urgency and at Ibrox they tried to take the Hoops on. Both games ended badly for the ‘Light Blues’.

Someone has to tell Mr Caixinha that getting a result against their city rivals is the only objective. Obviously that’s going to be hard when the gulf between the two sides is so cavernous. But interim coach Graeme Murty realised that you have to spoil the game and turn it into a bit of a battle.

If you can’t beat them then at least fight for a draw. No one in the stands at Ibrox wants to see their team lose heavily because they’re trying to play pretty football.

But one thing that we have to remember is that the current Gers manager is having to use players that he inherited from Mark Warburton’s regime.

Quite a few of those footballers have underperformed or are simply not up to the task. Rangers fans will tell you that some of those players don’t deserve to wear the shirt.

Rangers have a fragile spine and everyone and their aunty could of told you that a year ago. Alan Stubbs was kind enough to ram the point home when Hibs defeated Rangers in the 2016 Scottish Cup final.

The only people that didn’t seem to see the main failings in the team were Warburton and his supposed talent spotter Frank McParland. Their transfer business last summer, in hindsight, was woeful to say the least.

So Caixinha needs to bring in new faces, and they need to be better than those currently plying their footballing trade in Govan.

If newspapers are to be believed then it seems as though the coach is targeting the right areas, he like everyone else realises the spine needs to be improved. So he’s looking at batting midfielders and strong centre-halves.

The side needs passion, strength and height and Pedro seems to be going for those type of players.

Chairman Dave King has stated that the club’s season ticket sales will go towards new signings:

“All of our season ticket money will be invested in the squad as we work towards taking our club back to the top,”

That could see as much as £11m plowed into this year’s recruitment drive. That would have to be spent wisely. I’m still concerned that with no proper scouting network in place, it could see Pedro overstretched during the off-season.

I’d also like to point out that the forty-six year old gaffer has had to deal with plenty of defensive injuries to his pool. The Gers defence was weak before these injuries but missing first-teamers has stalled any real progress.

Ultimately I don’t think we should be judging Pedro Caixinha after just two months in the Gers hotseat. He’s had to come in with the club at a low ebb and clean up a mess not of his own doing.

Yes I can understand some of the criticism and yes the Portuguese manager has made some big mistakes but ultimately he needs time to bring in his own players and a preseason to get the squad gelled and working on a system that they’ll use more often than not.

Will he be a success at Ibrox?

I have no idea! It might all depend on his goals and if he can learn from these early mistakes.

Could Man United Trade In Luke Shaw For Ryan Bertrand?

When Manchester United signed Luke Shaw for £30m back in 2014 from Southampton they thought they’d signed an ideal replacement for Patrice Evra and that Shaw would be their left-back for the next fifteen years or so.

But unfortunately for Shaw injuries would seriously hamper his time at Man United. He has also struggled to convince United managers Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho that he was worth a place in their team.

Van Gaal questioned his lifestyle and his weight. Shaw would finally come good under the Dutchman but then suffered from a horrific break to his leg in a Champions League tie against PSV. That left him back at square one.

It was expected that once back in first team training, Shaw would regain his place under new man Mourinho this term but alas it hasn’t worked out that way.

The full-back has managed just 692 minutes of Premier League action this season, he’s only started in nine league games. Once again niggling injuries have played a part in stalling his career but he’s also received harsh criticism from boss Jose.

The Portuguese coach has stated the Shaw needs to learn to play through the pain, to start thinking for himself and show more ambition and focus:

“I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind.”

Jose Mourinho’s stinging attacks and his own underwhelming performances have left Luke Shaw looking like a player playing with zero confidence.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see a way back for the England international under Jose’s regime.

In an ironic twist, Shaw’s old side Southampton currently have one of the Premier League’s top performing left-backs in Ryan Bertrand.

Bertrand is well ahead of Shaw in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts when it comes to a place in England’s first eleven. His top-end performances for the Saints haven’t gone unnoticed with Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool all linked with bids when the transfer window reopens.

But maybe Mourinho should take a serious look at Bertrand, if he’s looking for a new left-back for next season.

The twenty-seven year old has been impressive this term with his consistently high performances.

Defensively Ryan makes a credible average of 1.3 tackles per game and around 1.6 interceptions. Going forward he’s helped his team’s cause with two league goals and four assists.

The defender gets up and down the line well, his discipline will impress disciplinarian Mourinho.

We all know that Southampton are a club that will sell players for a big fee. They also have a couple of good young left-backs who could come in and take Bertrand’s place in the team.

The Saints may also be interested in taking twenty-one year old Shaw back to the club. They might believe that they can get him back to the player they sold in 2014. If they could then that would see him becoming a £30m star again.

Whatever happens, I think Luke Shaw’s time at Manchester United will come to an end this summer (even if it’s just temporarily). I also believe that Southampton will cash in on Ryan Bertrand.

Now whether the two clubs will do business together again this summer? Well that remains to be seen.

Rangers Should Be Targeting Players Like Bruno Alves And Ryan Jack

Everyone knows that Rangers need to bring in new players this summer.

Gers boss Pedro Caixinha has recently stated that things are progressing well in the new signing front and some faces may arrive soon:

“We are about to get one deal, or more than one deal, done in those positions, so we know what we want,” 

“We know exactly what we are looking for and things are going in the direction we want.”

Two names that have been linked heavily with moves to Ibrox have been Aberdeen’s Ryan Jack and Portuguese international defender Bruno Alves.

These are two players that I believe could help steer Rangers into a better league position next season as they would strengthen the spine of the team greatly.

Dons captain Jack has been a stalwart for the Pittodrie club and has consistently been one of their better players in recent seasons.

The central midfielder has that passionate, nonsense attitude that Rangers have been missing this term. Ryan is also a leader and he wouldn’t shy away from a midfield battle, that would be vital for any Gers midfield up against this current Celtic side.

Caixinha has gone out of his way to praise the midfielder:

“I like the way he sees the game and gives the out ball in the build-up. He gives a balance to the team when it’s attacking.”

The real bonus for the Gers moneymen is the fact that Ryan Jack’s contract is due to expire this summer, so he won’t come with a fee attached. That being said the Govan inhabitants will have to offer the twenty-five year old a good deal as MLS side Columbus Crew are also monitoring his present situation.

If Pedro and his side can persuade Jack to head south for Glasgow, then it would represent a yesteryear transfer from Rangers. Back in better times they would often assess the best players at other clubs in the league before snapping them up for themselves. It would improve the Gers squad and weaken an opposition pool at the same time.

In Bruno Alves, Rangers would be getting an experienced, if hotheaded, central defender.

With Clint Hill and Philippe Senderos departing at the end of this campaign and Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson struggling to play well consistently, the Gers defence will need more experience next season.

Looking at Alves CV you can see a player used to functioning at big clubs with FC Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Fenerbache counting as former employers.

This season he’s played thirty-five times for Cagliari in Serie A. That shows us that even though he’s now in his mid-thirties the veteran can still get through plenty of game time.

The six foot two strong man is good in the air and would attack every ball that flew into his box, in fairness Rangers have often lacked that aerial support and proper height this term.

Alves would give more strength to Caixinha’s squad and would be a player that wouldn’t be coy around any opposition forward either.

As the above clip shows, Bruno also has a volatile side to his game and it would certainly be interesting to see if he could keep his cool in a derby game against bitter city rivals Celtic.

A stumbling block in any deal to get Bruno Alves to Ibrox could be Cagliari as he still has a year left on his contract there.

Now maybe these two targets will not arrive in Glasgow’s blue half this summer but Rangers certainly need players of this ilk. They need stars that won’t shirk away from their duties and who will be leaders on the park!

A Return To Bournemouth Could Be Just The Ticket For Jermain Defoe

It has been revealed that Jermain Defoe can leave Sunderland on a free transfer this summer as his contract has a relegation clause inserted into it.

Speculation is now rife about where the striker could be playing his football next season.

The two frontrunners seem to be clubs that shaped his future in the game; West Ham United and A.F.C Bournemouth.

Personally I think Defoe would be better off turning down the temptation of returning to London and instead plump for life on the South Coast.

Defoe spent a season on loan with the Cherries when he was a teenager and he scored eighteen league goals in twenty-nine appearances there.

So why do I think he should return?

Well I think continuity and stability could be a key factor. At Bournemouth you almost get the feeling that manager Eddie Howe is in the hot-seat at Dean Court for as long as he wants to be.

Whereas at West Ham, people are already talking about the board replacing Slaven Bilic. The Hammers Obviously have plenty of ambition but at times their twitchy trigger finger when it comes to sacking bosses and their scattergun approach in the transfer market makes you think that they don’t have a long-term plan.

At Sunderland, Defoe has been the main man and that means the striker plays regularly. In all honesty Bournemouth will offer him that same untouchable status, while West Ham will probably have more competition.

The regular football has benefited the veteran hitman and even in his mid-thirties, Defoe is still playing over thirty top-flight league games a season and scoring in the region of fifteen league goals too. Surely he’ll be looking to join a club that offers him a promise of first team football.

Jermain will also be thinking about next year’s World Cup in Russia. The ageing attacker has managed to get himself back into Gareth Southgate’s England set-up and he’ll only stay there if he’s playing week in, week out and scoring goals.

According to the Daily Mirror today, Bournemouth are ready to show their commitment in making Defoe their star striker by offering him a two year deal worth around £100k a week. That will be a very tempting deal for the English hitman.

I would also imagine that Jermain Defoe would like the chance to enhance the forwards that are already at Dean Court. Players like Joshua King, Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe would benefit big time in learning from Defoe whether it be on the pitch or at the training ground.

Eddie Howe wants to get his Bournemouth side into the English Premier League’s top ten and bringing in a player like Defoe would certainly help him in achieving that goal.

For the player the chance of being the team’s main attacking focus, getting plenty of game time and working with a solid, committed squad could be the best way to prolong his excellent goalscoring career.

The Inter Milan Project Will Interest Diego Simeone

It would be hard to argue with Diego Simeone if he decided to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season, especially if he believes he’s taken the side as far as he possibly can.

Under his stewardship Atleti have won a La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and tasted a Europa League triumph. The only blemish on his CV at the Vicente Calderon has been the lack of their maiden Champions League title, he came extremely close on two occasions now. Will he go again next tern?

As a coach he has watched his sides compete and beat some of the best teams in the world of football. Diego has also managed to nurture talent and turn his players into some of the finest footballers on the planet.

The Argentine coach has the same passion as a boss that he had as a player. His sides are tough to breakdown and they have no problem turning a game of football into a dogged affair that irritates opponents.

But as bitter city rivals Real yet again knocked his Atletico side out of Europe’s most elite of competitions, you cannot help but feel that Someone’s mind may have turned to other opportunities.

If he is currently thinking about a new gig then you can bet your bottom dollar that Inter Milan will be upper most in his mind.

Inter represent another of Diego’s former European clubs. He played for the Nerazurri between 1997 and 1999, winning the UEFA Cup with them in 98.

Internazionale have had a recent injection of cash by their new Chinese owners and bringing in a top class coach like Simeone will be a priority as they look to get back into the Champions League and start to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

You’d imagine that the Inter hierarchy would offer the new coach a significant transfer budget and a big wage to make sure they could attract one of the world’s best managers to the club.

Diego Simeone is still very good friends with former teammate and Inter legend Javer Zanetti. The former full-back is currently the Nerazzurri’s vice-president and could be a big influence in getting Diego back at the San Siro.

Asked about the possibility of bringing his pal across to Italy, Zanetti said:

“Simeone? Who knows what will happen in the future?”

That suggests to me that Inter would like to have Simeone at their helm one day and probably sooner rather than later.

The challenge of catching Juve and getting Inter back into the Champions League would interest the forty-seven year old boss. He has fought against the odds during his time in Spain and has often upset them on many occasion and has made Atletico a strong third force in La Liga.

So the situation at the San Siro would actually appeal to the Argentine. He would be welcomed back by the support, who want to see the side winning consistently again and fighting for titles. His style can be pragmatic but the Italians more than most appreciate that style of football.

It will be interesting to see if Simeone decides to leave his beloved Atletico Madrid this summer or give Los Rojiblancos one more season of hard work and dedication.

Not many teams would have him swayed at this stage but Internazionale certainly have that pull for him!

 

We Can’t Blame Billy Gilmour For Choosing Chelsea Over Rangers

Billy Gilmour is an exciting young Scottish footballing prospect, who is fast approaching his sixteenth birthday. That meant he had a choice to make, either sign on and stay at Rangers or leave for an elite European club.

It was announced yesterday that the fifteen year old had decided to depart Glasgow and head for London and sign up with English Premier League leaders Chelsea. The deal will see Rangers receive around £500k in compensation, a paltry sum considering the players potential.

A debate has now started with people stating he’d have been better staying at Ibrox, while others believe he’s better off down at Stamford Bridge.

I’ve thought about it for months and I truly believe he’s made the best decision.

Would it have been easier to get into the Gers first team?

No doubt but he’ll be playing with a better calibre of player in the Chelsea academy and that’s probably better for him at this stage, rather than heaping pressure on him with early first team action.

People always state that no one really makes it at Chelsea through the academy.

Ok there seems to be some truth in that but even if they don’t make it at Chelsea a lot of these youngsters go elsewhere and get first team football in strong leagues like the Premier League, Bundesliga, the Championship and Serie A.

Others moan about stockpiling and the raft of players that leave on loan.

True but they go to clubs like Fulham, Borussia Monchengladbach, AC Milan and Vitesse Arnhem. The loan deals are to get the young players used to first team football and they can then be assessed on their abilities. A lot of those loanees manage to get into their national sides while out on loan and getting the valuable exposure with a senior side.

Look at Nathan Ake, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah they’ve all been out on loan but have been part of the Chelsea first team this season. While they’re not regular starters, it’s clear Blues boss Antonio Conte sees potential in them.

I’d also expect Conte to promote Tammy Abrahams and Andreas Christensen once they return to the Bridge. Both have enjoyed great loan spells during this campaign and the Italian manager knows that his side will be fighting on four fronts next term and will need more faces in his pool of players.

We also can’t forget that Rangers haven’t had a huge amount of success bringing academy players into their first eleven either. Yes Barrie McKay has managed to get himself in there but others like John Fleck came into the team and didn’t live up to the early hype.

But what about Islam Feruz, the last player to leave Glasgow for Chelsea in the hope of making the grade?

Yes Feruz’s tale isn’t the best as he’s been farmed out more times than I care to remember. The former Scotland under-21 forward was last seen struggling to break into a now relegated Swindon Town side in England’s League One. It’s Islam’s fifth loan deal and he’s yet to play more than eight games at any of these teams, never mind find the net.

But by all accounts the glitz and glamour got to Feruz and distracted him from the goal of actually concentrating on his football. Everyone I have spoken to about the twenty-one year old always questions his attitude and his commitment. He could very well end up being Scotland’s answer to Freddy Adu!

His story should act as a warning to Billy Gilmour but it shouldn’t put off the fifteen year old. Many others, who showed the proper endeavour, have done well at the academy and flourished (not necessarily at Chelsea).

Now let’s talk money.

I don’t think the move is really financially motivated, although I’m sure Gilmour will get more at Chelsea than he would have received at Ibrox. The boy seems to have his head screwed on and taken his time in making this decision.

Billy seems determined to do as well as he can in his career. He won’t go down to the big smoke and live in a spacious palatial home with his family, initially he’ll most probably leave his family and stay in digs. That is a big move for any young teen.

At Chelsea he knows he can test himself week in and week out in training against other youthful prodigies. He will also receive top-class tuition from coaches that know the game inside out and who have a tried and tested system.

It’s easy to moan at young players who choose to go to leave Scotland for England but really we should support them in taking a risk and trying to forge their own paths in the game.

Hopefully we’ll see Billy Gilmour turning out for Chelsea one day and also becoming a star for Scotland!